Why we eat meat without guilt, but hate seeing animal slaughter

In her book ‘For A Moment of Taste’, former PETA CEO Poorva Joshipura writes about how categorising an animal as ‘food’ changes our view of it. Until we see it being killed.

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When I ate meat, if someone were to have asked me if I loved animals, I would have said an enthusiastic ‘yes!’ After all, I adored playing with dogs and cats I would come across, enjoyed feeding squirrels and birds with my grandmother and liked watching wildlife documentaries with my father. 

However, eating animals requires someone ripping them from their families and butchering them—this is something everyone knows, even if they do not know the details of how it is done, and I knew that much too. Yet, I ate meat anyway. What allowed me to do so? What might allow others to do the same?

Also read: Will more people turn to vegetarianism in a post-coronavirus world?

The Brazilian Supermarket Prank 

Scientists have been studying this conflict, between caring for animals and killing them to eat them. This phenomenon has been labelled ‘the meat paradox’ by University of Kent and Université Libre de Bruxelles researchers Steve Loughnan, Boyka Bratanova, and Elisa Puvia. 

And we generally do care for animals. That’s why countries have laws protecting animals, why societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCAs) and other animal protection groups exist, why there was such national outrage when tigress Avni was killed, why the global horror when Cecil the lion and later his son Xanda were killed by trophy hunters in Zimbabwe, and it is likely why you are reading this book. In fact, many of us find what has to happen to animals to produce meat wrong, at least in principle, what little we may know about it, even if we eat meat. 

A prank that was set up at a supermarket in Brazil, in which a man pretending to be a butcher offered samples of free fresh pork sausages to the store’s customers, proves this point. Shoppers would visit the counter, eat and admire the pork. Then, the butcher would offer to make more, but to do so he would bring out a live piglet and put the animal in a machine that appeared to instantly grind her up and turn her into fresh meat. In reality, another prankster was sitting in the machine safely collecting each baby pig. Although customers had just readily eaten pork, they were aghast when they thought a live pig was about to be killed. One woman spat out pork from her mouth, others pleaded with the butcher not to kill the young pig and even tried to physically stop him from doing so. None of them picked up another piece of the free fresh pork that they had eagerly eaten before seeing the live pig. If you were one of the customers, what would you have done?

Ranking Species on Worthiness of Moral Concern 

While many of us are perturbed by the thought of slaughter of any animal, several studies found people who choose to eat animals are inclined to reject the thought that animals are capable of complex emotions and are likely to draw a further line between the emotional capacities of animals usually used for food (such as chickens) versus those who are not typically eaten by humans (like parrots). Both are birds, but the findings of these scientists indicate that people who eat meat are prone to believe parrots can feel more deeply than chickens, even though there’s no scientific support for such a view. Refusing to acknowledge animals, especially animals used for food, have the ability to experience deep emotions, appears to let many of us dismiss what happens to them in the production of food. 

Through studies conducted by Loughnan and his colleague Brock Bastian of the University of Queensland, the pair describes how vegetarians tend to compare with meat eaters in thinking about the mental faculties of animals when told they will be killed. Vegetarians did not alter their view of that animal’s acumen when told an animal, such as a lamb, was set for slaughter. When meat eaters were told the same thing, it was found that they generally reduced their view of the animal’s mental abilities. This, the researchers surmise, may be a ‘defensive way’ to allow us to consume animals without much guilt or remorse.

Another experiment shows merely categorizing an animal as ‘food’ effects how most people perceive the animal’s rights. In this study, researchers introduced a tree kangaroo to participants—an animal the participating individuals were not familiar with. They were given general information about tree kangaroos and then some were told that the animals were for eating while others were not. Those individuals who were told the species was food considerably regarded tree kangaroos as less deserving of concern than the other participants. 

Labelling an animal ‘friend’ has an effect too, but an opposite one—doing so tends to increase our respect for the friend species. This labelling of animals as ‘friend’ versus ‘food’ and the psychological effect it has on how we then view them is surely what helped me, when I consider it in hindsight, to simultaneously love animals like dogs and cats and eat animals like cows, chickens and pigs.

Also read: A Dutch butcher is winning hearts by making plants taste just like meat

If this is the effect one study had on people’s minds, imagine the result of being told repeatedly, like we usually are from a young age, that certain animals are for ‘food’ by authority figures, like our parents, or members of our community or people we want to be accepted by, like our friends. What if these individuals would have instead categorized those same animals as ‘friend’? Would we have thought differently? 

Today there are many vegetarians and vegans in the United States, but in the ’80s and early ’90s, the repeated messaging to me as a youngster from most people was speciesist: Animals like cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and fish merely existed to be eaten and animals like dogs and cats are friends. In other words, particular species are worthier of respect than other animals just by way of being. Indeed, though I happily ate what I considered to be the ‘food’ members of the animal kingdom, I would have eaten my own foot before I ate a dog. If we are raised in a meat-eating family, or if our families engage in rituals or customs that involve killing or eating certain animals, something similar is usually the repeated messaging we hear too. 

This excerpt from A Moment of Taste by Poorva Joshipura has been published with permission from HarperCollins India.

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FrontlinePBS on slaughterhouse workers includes undercover animal video from COK, aired 7/21/2020

 I want to make sure DawnWatch subscribers know about the most recent episode of Frontline, on PBS, which looked at the plight of agricultural and slaughterhouse workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Upon learning that the episode included video of egregious animal abuse, in addition to the inherent animal abuse of slaughterhouses, I feared that animals would be what Carol Adams has termed the “absent referent” (a term well worth learning about) in the show, with their suffering being an unacknowledged backdrop. Instead, Frontline shared the undercover video at the top of the slaughterhouse segment, letting viewers know that the Central Valley Meat Co, which has shown shocking indifference to the plight of its workers, has a famously bad history with animals as well. PBS does not mention that the video being shared comes from a Compassion Over Killing undercover investigation from 2012, but some of you might enjoy the DawnWatch alert from that time about the superb coverage the investigation achieved: https://dawnwatch.com/alert/20120822190107/ The Frontline episode can be watched on line at:https://www.pbs.org/video/covids-hidden-toll-lof6d5/ The animal cruelty segment is at the 22 minute mark, but I personally would highly recommend watching the full show. It is eye opening and thought provoking. It was not easy to find a link for feedback to the Frontline producers, while very easy to find information for sharing the episode online, which tells us that sharing is the positive feedback the producers prefer. They offer their social media address as @FrontlinePBS and hashtag as #FrontlinePBS . And so I highly recommend you check out and share the segment.   I have it on the DawnWatch Facebook page athttps://www.facebook.com/DawnWatchInc/posts/662804937776490

The Birth of a Bill, the Death of an Activist


Saturday, July 18, 2020byToronto Star

Regan’s viewpoint, known as intersectionality, is the theory that all forms of oppression, discrimination, domination etc., intersect and influence each other.byFiona Roossien


Regan Russell, the Toronto Pig Save activist who was killed by a truck carrying pigs to slaughter. (Photo: Agnes Cseke)

Regan Russell, the Toronto Pig Save activist who was killed by a truck carrying pigs to slaughter. (Photo: Agnes Cseke)

On June 19, a protester was killed. Perhaps her death was obscured by the din of headlines that Friday—it was Juneteenth, a day marking the end of slavery.

Protests against systemic racism catalyzed by the death of George Floyd juxtaposed with a Trump rally scheduled on the anniversary and in the location of the worst incident of racial violence in the U.S. Tensions were high.

Her name was Regan Russell and while participating in a scheduled vigil outside of Fearmans slaughterhouse in Burlington, she was run down by a transport truck carrying pigs on their way to slaughter.

In the news covering this event, and in conversations I’ve had with friends and family, it seems the significance of a protester being run down by the very thing she was protesting has been missed. It seems many wonder what she was doing there.

A local news story gives the following account from someone who witnessed the event from a distance: “Then I saw a woman … I assumed the truck driver thought he was clear to go and didn’t see that last protester.”

Ironically, being seen is an important goal of the vigils held by animal rights groups at slaughterhouses—one way to create more visibility in an industry that would prefer to keep its practices hidden. And Regan was unignorable.

But she was also there that day to protest Bill 156—a new ag-gag law that had been passed two days earlier. Criticized as unconstitutional, Bill 156 is handcrafted to stifle damning evidence of the cruelty that is endemic to animal agriculture, with provisions that are distinctly anti-whistle-blower and anti-free-speech.

Like its counterpart, Bill 27 in Alberta, Bill 156 represents the influence of a powerful farming lobby desperately trying to limit exposure of something that can harm their bottom line — visibility into how the animal agriculture industry works. These sections don’t serve to protect the animals or reinforce biosecurity; they serve the sole purpose of controlling information.

The day before she died, Regan wrote on social media: “Bill 156 has passed. Now anytime an animal is suffering on a farm in Ontario, no one, not even an employee, has the right to expose it. This decision is evil. Animal ag is evil. Cancel animal agriculture.”

I’m so sorry that you didn’t get a chance to meet Regan Russell yourself. You would have loved her. I only hope that, in clearing up some of the questions about vigils, I can do her justice.

Regan didn’t look like what I suppose you’d expect a vegan to look like. At 65, Regan still possessed the qualities that decades earlier had made her a model — that is to say, her outer beauty was undeniable. But on the inside — well, that was truly special. She was funny and fast-witted, kind and patient.

She vibrated on a high frequency, if you are familiar with the concept. She was cynical, in a wise way, yet optimistic enough to try to make a difference. For 40 years, she had tried to make a difference. A week prior to her death, she had marched at a Black Lives Matter rally.

You see, Regan’s viewpoint, known as intersectionality, is the theory that all forms of oppression, discrimination, domination etc., intersect and influence each other. One of the signs she frequently brought to vigils read: “If you were in this truck, we’d be here for you too.” And you know what? She would have.

Personally speaking, up until two years ago, I wouldn’t have considered being an activist myself, despite being vegan for several years. It was my then 10-year old son — frustrated because he had been forbidden to talk about animal agriculture at school, who begged me and his dad, also vegan, to take him to a vigil. It became our church. Every Sunday morning we went to bear witness at Fearmans — sometimes with just a handful of people, sometimes in a group of 20 or more. Regan was almost always there too.

This leads me to an important point about Regan’s experience — as an activist, and specifically attending vigils at Fearmans, which she had done for years. This translates to hundreds of vigils, stopping thousands of transport trucks, bearing witness to the final moments of hundreds of thousands of pigs.

Regan understood the risks — after all, rogue aggressive drivers had been encountered in the past. In fact, this issue was the impetus for a petition created by Toronto Pig Save on change.org urging Michael Latifi, the CEO of Fearmans/Sofina Foods Inc., to create​ ​a safety agreement allowing activists to safely protest. Although the request has been ignored to date, other efforts had been made by both Toronto Pig Save and another activist group, New Wave Activism, to liaise with police, work with security and establish rapport with drivers.

Safety protocol is reviewed regularly with the group. Every vigil is timed. Roles are assigned to protestors to improve safety. Regan had one of those roles that day — standing at the entrance, just on the other side of the pedestrian sidewalk, with her now iconic bright neon sign that read ALL ANIMALS NEED PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW.

Although, thanks to the newly passed Bill 156, the ability to legally protect animals would soon be more difficult. It is a bill that exemplifies prioritization of commerce over our rights as Canadians and specifically seeks to punish animal activists. This reality was certainly top-of-mind for Regan and the other activists there that day — as much as it was likely on the radar of those who profit from animal agriculture.

As you can imagine, losing Regan has been a devastating loss to the activism community, to Toronto Pig Save and New Wave Activism and to the many individuals who Regan touched with her beauty, wisdom and compassion. Personally, there hasn’t been a day since that I haven’t cried a tear or two hundred — for the loss of a friend, and the loss of innocence, as I see for the first time just how unforgiving the machine we stand against can be.

And in the wake of Regan’s death, we are emboldened to articulate our demands in her name:

Justice for Regan Russell; the creation of a universal safety protocol for all future vigils; the repeal of Bill 156; greater visibility into farms where animals are kept and slaughterhouses via 24/7 video; monitoring that can be accessed by the public; the conversion of Fearmans Pork into an exclusively plant-based facility focused on the manufacture of plant protein; and the defunding of animal agriculture.

On the captivity, Regan said: “They say we’re breaking the law by storming? How do you think women got the right (to vote)? How do you think slavery was abolished? People stood up and broke the laws! Because they’re stupid laws.”

Let’s stand up to this stupid law.

Fiona Roossien wrote this article on behalf of Toronto Pig Save.

Revealed: Covid-19 outbreaks at meat-processing plants in US being kept quiet


Testing has found positive cases at North Carolina facilities, but officials refuse to release the information

Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plant in Marshville, N.C.

Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plant in Marshville, North Carolina. Photograph: Francisco Kjolseth/APAnimals farmed is supported byAbout this contentLewis Kendall in Durham, North CarolinaPublished onWed 1 Jul 2020 05.00 EDT


Achicken processing facility in western North Carolina reportedly underwent widespread testing for Covid-19 in early June.

Workers at the plant were scared. Several employees had already tested positive and the company, Case Farms – which has been repeatedly condemned for animal treatment and workers’ rights violations – was not providing proper protective equipment.

“We don’t have a lot of space at work. We are shoulder to shoulder,” said one worker, who declined to be identified, during a recent union call. “I’m afraid to go to work, but I have to go.”

The testing turned up 150 positive cases at the facility, the worker said.

On 8 June, the health department for Burke county, where the Case Farms facility is located, reported 136 new Covid cases, a 25% increase in its total caseload. Yet neither the company, county officials nor the North Carolina department of health and human services would confirm whether those cases were connected to Case Farms.

It is just one example of the currently taut relationship between public health and the economy in North Carolina, as the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations rises.

North Carolina is one of the largest pork and poultry producing states in the US, exporting roughly $1.25bn in hogs, chickens and turkeys every year. Health departments in rural parts of the state, areas that often lean on large meatpacking or food processing facilities as primary sources of employment, have so far been tight-lipped about Covid-19 outbreaks in those plants.

In late April, while outbreaks began emerging at meat processing plants across the country, Donald Trump signed an executive order forcing the facilities to remain open. That same month, the US exported a record amount of pork to China, despite industry claims of a domestic shortage.

Workers wear protective masks and stand between a plastic dividers at a Tyson Foods poultry plant in Georgia.

Workers wear protective masks and stand between a plastic dividers at a Tyson Foods poultry plant in Georgia. Photograph: AP

Since the pandemic began, more than 36,000 meat processing and farm workers have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least 116 have died, according to a tally by the Food and Environment Reporting Network, though the true number is likely higher.

Through case interviews and contact tracing, the Burke county health department, where Case Farms is located, does have data about where people with positive cases work, but are choosing not to release it, said spokeswoman Lisa Moore.

“We know where they are, but we are not a county that can divulge every place where they are,” Moore said.

Case Farms requested the health department direct all questions regarding their facility to a company representative, Moore added.

In response to a series of detailed questions from the Guardian, a Case Farms spokesperson wrote that the company is “committed to continue producing food for our nation’s food supply, while taking additional safety measures to protect our employees, our company and our customers, in accordance with USDA regulations and CDC guidelines.”

Earlier this year, North Carolina’s health department had reported the names of farms with two or more positive cases, but in May replaced the names with addresses in order to “better reflect the location of the outbreak”, according to a department spokesperson.

“Why, when a nursing home has an outbreak, it’s in the paper, but when a meatpacking facility does, it’s not?” said Mac Legerton, a longtime grassroots policy advocate and co-director of the Robeson County Cooperative for Sustainable Development, and is among those who have criticized local and state governments’ approach to case reporting.

“The law needs to be that in a pandemic all outbreaks at public and private facilities are made public to protect the employees of the institutions and to inform the public.”

As of Thursday, there were 2,772 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in 28 meat processing plant “clusters” around the state, the department said, but would not specify further.

North Carolina as a whole has seen a marked increase in cases and hospitalizations over the past several weeks, prompting a “concerned” Governor Roy Cooper to announce last week that the state would pause in the second phase of its reopening plan.

Demonstrators protest working conditions at a Pilgrim’s Pride poultry processing facility in Minnesota.

Demonstrators protest working conditions at a Pilgrim’s Pride poultry processing facility in Minnesota. Photograph: Jeff Wheeler/APAdvertisementhttps://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The state requires only a few types of businesses to report outbreaks, which it defines as two or more cases, including congregate living facilities, daycare centers and schools. For all other businesses, local health departments and the state DHHS depend on companies volunteering their own data or tracking down clusters through case interviews.

But failure to disclose outbreaks demonstrates that officials and company executives are prioritizing economic interests over the wellbeing of marginalized workers and communities, Legerton said.

“That lack of information puts both employees and the public at risk,” he said.

In a letter to several of the largest meat companies last week, senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker called on the corporations to disclose infection figures in their plants.

Virginia also recently moved to create a set of safety rules to protect workers from Covid-19 – the first of its kind in the nation – following a petition from workers in the state’s poultry processing and meatpacking industries. The drafted rules, which include requiring employers to mandate social distancing and notify employees of potential exposure, would be enforceable through fines and closures.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has received nearly 350 Covid-related complaints from employees at North Carolina businesses. One business, Pilgrim’s Pride, a poultry processing plant in Sanford, was the subject of at least eight separate complaints, with workers alleging the company was not informing them of positive tests or mandating the wearing of some protective equipment. A worker there died in May.

In Robeson county – home to a large Campbell’s Soup facility, Mountaire Farms and Sanderson Farms poultry processing plants, as well as many factory farms – businesses have been generally forthcoming with the health department, according to Bill Smith, the county’s health department director.

Smith’s office received $600,000 in federal Covid funding, which it used to set up testing sites around the county and hire school nurses as contact tracers. Smith and his team have also been collaborating on daily calls with health departments from surrounding counties, as well as coordinating closely with the local Lumbee Tribe.

But companies can make this work difficult, muddying the waters for case reporting in communities where they are one of very few employers, Smith said.

“A lot of the packing places are your largest employers, therefore it’s an economic issue,” he said. “There may be pressures from them to stay out of the packing world, if you will.”

Companies also choose to weigh public health considerations alongside public relations in determining what information to release, Smith said, pointing to publicly traded giants like Sanderson Farms and Smithfield Foods, which have “a brand they’re trying to protect”.

“If you say something about Smithfield Foods, they’ll see an effect immediately: you’ll see someone not buy Smithfield in the grocery,” he said.

Still, the decision by state and county health departments to report some outbreaks and not others appears inconsistent with the need for transparency in a public health crisis, Smith noted.

“When you’re releasing nursing home names with two illnesses, yet another place that has 900 you refuse to give, there’s some disagreement there from a public health perspective,” he said.

Joaquin Phoenix Attends Vigil for Animal Rights Activist After She Died Outside a Slaughterhouse

Joaquin Phoenix honored Regan Russell, an animal rights activist who was killed outside of a slaughterhouse in Toronto, CanadaBy Alexia Fernandez June 26, 2020 10:02 PMhttps://7df0782deefdfbba75c64735113f71eb.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlhttps://7df0782deefdfbba75c64735113f71eb.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlADVERTISEMENTFBTweetMore

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix and Michelle Cho; (inset) Regan Russell BOBBY SUD

Joaquin Phoenix paid tribute to an animal rights activist after she died giving pigs water outside of a Canadian slaughterhouse.

The Oscar-winning actor, 45, joined more than 100 animal rights activists for a vigil to commemorate Regan Russell outside of the Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon, California, on Thursday night.

Phoenix, who has been an outspoken proponent for animal rights and veganism, stood outside of the slaughterhouse in a black hoodie reading “LA Animal Save,” a mask, and a sign that read, “#SavePigs4Regan.”

Standing beside him was his friend, Michelle Cho, with a sign that read, “Rest in power Regan.”

RELATED: Joaquin Phoenix Comforted Pigs at L.A. Slaughterhouse After SAG Award Win: ‘I Have to Be Here’

In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Phoenix said, “Regan Russell spent the final moments of her life providing comfort to pigs who had never experienced the touch of a kind hand.”

“While her tragic death has brought upon deep sorrow in the Animal Save community, we will honor her memory by vigorously confronting the cruelties she fought so hard to prevent by marching with Black Lives, protecting Indigenous rights, fighting for LGBTQ equality, and living a compassionate vegan life,” he said.

Joaquin Phoenix

Regan Russell died on June 19 GOFUNDME

“The Ontario government can attempt to silence us with the passage of its Ag-Gag bill -Bill 156 – but we will never go away and we will never back down,” he said. “My heart goes out to the Toronto Animal Save community and to Regan’s lifelong partner, Mark Powell.”

Part of Russell’s fight was to repeal a new bill passed in Ontario, Bill 156, that will soon make it illegal for anyone to be on private property such as farms where animals intended for slaughter are usually held.

Russell died on the morning of June 19 outside of the Fearman’s Pork Inc. when she was hit by a transport truck as she was attempting to give water to pigs headed to slaughter.

A spokesperson for the Halton Regional Police Service did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, although an investigation into her death is being conducted, a spokesperson told CBC.

Russell’s partner, Powell, told The Hamilton Spectator shortly after her death he didn’t know how she ended up underneath the transport truck, but that he was willing to continue her legacy of fighting for animal welfare.

RELATED: Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix March with Dead Animals After Sparking Engagement Rumors

“She died fighting for what she believed in,” Powell said. “Whatever it cost, she would pay. Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes, it’s this.”

On Friday, Powell told the CBC he’d fight Bill 156 for “the rest of my life.”

“My life ended on Friday [June 19], so for as long as I’m left here, we have to pick up the torch and we have to fight things like Bill 156,” he said.

GoFundMe for Russell has been created by her family to provide funds for her funeral and legal expenses.

The Long History Of Murdered Animal Rights And Environmental Activists

Regan Russell and other activists killed

ActivismAnimal RightsArticlesEnvironmentFeaturedFeatured ActivistsLatest

 Brandon Kirkwood  0 CommentsActivistskilledmurderSpread the love

With the recent passing of Regan Russell who died when run over by a slaughterhouse truck at a vigil in Canada, a long horrible chain of violence has been added to.

Below is a timeline of vegan activists who died speaking out for the animals.

When possible I have posted pictures of the slain individuals so they can be more than just words on a page.

1976, January 6th: William Sweet, LACS member Anti-hunting activist, Murdered after an altercation with a man who was shooting birds. His murderer was jailed for life but was later released.

1985 October 7th: Fernando Pereira a Greenpeace photographer was murdered by the French Secret Service when the vessel “Rainbow Warrior” was sunk by two explosions in Auckland Harbor, New Zealand.

The Photographer Fernando Pereira (right) and Rongelap Islander Bonemej Namwe ride ashore in the ‘bum bum’. Born on Kwajalein, Namwe, 62, has lived most of her life on Rongelap. The Rainbow Warrior is in Rongelap to assist in the evacuation of islanders to Mejato. Rongelap suffered nuclear fallout in 1954, making it a hazardous place for this community to continue living in. Eyes of Fire: p49

1988, December 22nd: Chico Mendes an anti-deforestation activist was murdered in his own home after an assassination order by a cattle rancher. He was the 19th Brazilian rainforest activist murdered that year. 

1991, February 9th: Mike Hill an 18 year old hunt saboteur was deliberately run over and killed during a meet of the Cheshire Beagles. Death is deemed “accidental”. No charges are brought against the driver Allan Summersgill. 

1993, April 3rd: 15-year-old hunt saboteur, Tom Warby, is deliberately run over and killed by a fox hunter as other huntsmen stand and laugh, proclaiming a “victory”. The driver, Alan Ball, is not prosecuted. 



1995, February 1st: Jill Phipps was a 31-year-old British activist and mother, who was crushed to death under the wheels of a veal transporter truck carrying live animals for export at a protest at Coventry airport. The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to bring any charges against the driver.

1995, March: Dr. Karel Van Noppen was a Belgium veterinarian who was assassinated in 1993 by hitmen after exposing mafia connections to the meat industry. Dr. Van Noppen was the victim of a powerful, international mafia who violently imposing its rule on the meat business, ruthlessly bullying anyone daring to stand in its way. In 1995, a few days before his murder, Van Noppen was explicitly threatened by people linked to the “hormone black mafia” underworld.

Dr. Karel Van Noppen

1998, September 17th: David “Gypsy” Chain was an American eco-activist who was crushed to death after an irate logger fell a tree on him in California’s redwood forest. On September 17, 1998, the 24-year-old environmental activist was crushed to death by a falling tree at the Headwaters Forest in Northern California.

Activists from Earth First! accused loggers of deliberately cutting down trees in their direction, part of escalating violence against activists condoned by the Pacific Lumber Company and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department.

Gypsy was part of an action to stop PL from destroying one of the last ancient redwood forests in the world.

The logging operation was illegal as a survey had yet to be done for the marbled murrelet, an endangered species of bird. PL attempted to portray the death as a “freak accident” and even tried to blame the victim as well as Earth First! According to PL spokesperson, Mary Bullwinkle:https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html


“Despite all our precautions, a trespasser was apparently killed by a falling tree at one of our logging sites on our private property.”

On September 18, Earth First! released a videotape revealing that loggers not only knew that demonstrators were in the area, but were angrily threatening them shortly before Gypsy was killed.

A logger shown shouting profanities and threats was, according to Earth First!, the very same logger who felled the tree that struck David. The video also showed activists scrambling up a steep hillside to escape falling trees. According to a witness statement:

“Gypsy’s death is not an isolated incident of violence. In the last several months trees have been intentionally felled at nonviolent activists at the Luna tree sit and in the Mattole watershed in Humboldt County. This is part of an escalation of violence against nonviolent forest defenders in the Northwest and all over the world.”

On September 18, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department issued preliminary findings concluding that the death was “accidental”. According to an Earth First! activist speaking at a press conference, “Police have routinely refused to file charges against anybody who assaults a forest activist.” In 1999, Mr. Chain’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against PL. The company settled out of court in October of 2001, just three days before the trial was set to begin.

A collage of David “Gypsy” Chain made by a morner

2003: Animal rights activist Jane Tipson is murdered in an alleged contract killing after protesting against the construction of a dolphin aquarium in St Lucia. To this day, her killers have not been found or prosecuted.

2005: 73-year-old anti-deforestation campaigner, Dorothy Stang, is approached in the Amazon by 2 armed men working on behalf of an animal agriculture organization. Asked if she has any weapons, she produces her Bible and says that’s all she has. She is shot in the stomach, then fatally shot 5 more times as she lays on the ground.

Dorothy Stang



2006: Joan Root, a conservationist, and activist against poaching and illegal fishing is murdered by 4 gunmen in her own home. To this day, her killers have not been found or prosecuted.

Joan Root and Alan Root

2010, May 12th: Elvio Fichera a volunteer for the Association of Abandoned Animals was murdered while trying to serve a warrant with police on Renzo Castagnola for cruelty to animals. Renzo Castagnola shot Elvio dead.

Elvio Fichera

More: https://vegannewsnow.com/2020/06/24/regan-russell-history-activists/

May 12, 2010: Paola Quartini, animal activist for LIPU (Italian League for Bird Protection – UK) from Genoa, Italy was murdered whilst trying, with police, to serve a warrant on Renzo Castagnola for cruelty to animals. Renzo Castagnola shot him dead.

2011: Two anti-deforestation activists, Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo, are shot dead by hired thugs, after years of constant death threats from cattle ranchers. The main suspect is acquitted. No other prosecutions.



2013: Jairo Mora Sandoval, a sea turtle activist, is bound, beaten, then fatally shot in the head by sea turtle poachers, after being kidnapped along with 4 other activists.

2020, June 19th: Regan Russell, an activist with the Animal Save Movement was murdered by a slaughterhouse truck driver that by all accounts did so on purpose.

Regan Russell


We remember our fellow fallen friends by continuing on with the activism they died for. Any single one of their deaths could easily have been ours and that’s one reason their deaths hit so hard.

Every time we go to a vigil, protest, shutdown, undercover investigation, or any form of protest we place our lives at risk so that we can help change the world.

Never forgetting those who have sacrificed everything for a more just and equal world is the least we can do but it’s even better if we remember on the days we are too tired, or sick to go to an event.

In the end we are all brothers and sisters in this together fighting for what’s right. We are all in this together.

Help Vegan News continue to get the news that matters to our community and help us move forward in these hard times.

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‘My life ended’ Friday: Regan Russell’s supporters want justice, Bill 156 overturned

‘I’ll fight it the rest of my life,’ says Regan Russell’s husband, Mark Powell

Samantha Craggs · CBC News · Posted: Jun 26, 2020 12:55 PM ET | Last Updated: June 26


Regan Russell, says friend Julie Maue, “taught me how to have long friendships. How lucky am I?” (Agnes Cseke)

As far as Mark Powell is concerned, his life ended last Friday when his wife, Regan Russell, was hit and killed by a transport truck during a Burlington animal rights protest.

Now he’ll spend the rest of his days, he says, trying to get rid of the bill that haunted her.

Powell, a west Hamilton contractor, says there’s been an international outpouring over Russell’s death, from artwork to YouTube tributes, and it’s helped make the grief a little lighter. His wife was deeply rattled by Bill 156, which creates “animal protection zones” that prohibits animal rights activists from “interfering or interacting with the farm animals in the motor vehicle.” 

He’s hired a lawyer for two reasons: to see justice in her death, and to try to get the new bill repealed. 

“I’ll fight it the rest of my life,” he said. “My life ended on Friday, so for as long as I’m left here, we have to pick up the torch, and we have to fight things like Bill 156.”

The notion of Russell having a legacy is comforting to Powell and others who knew her. The 65-year-old activist often protested in front of Fearman’s Pork Inc. as part of Toronto Pig Save. The group gives a last gulp of water to pigs packed into hot trailers, moments before they’re slaughtered.

That’s what she was doing at 10:20 a.m. June 19. Somehow, witnesses say, she ended up being hit by the transport truck.

Regan Russell (left) and Katherine Wightman are shown as young models in the photo on the left. In the more recent photo, Russell is on the right. “I’ve lost my right arm,” Wightman says. (Katherine Wightman)

Halton Regional Police Service said Thursday that the collision reconstruction unit is doing a “thorough investigation.” 

“A determination on charges will be made by the collision reconstruction unit once the investigation is complete,” said Const. Steve Elms in an email. “At that time, investigators will issue a media release to update the community.”

Russell was also a women’s rights and Black Lives Matter supporter and attended a rally days before her death, says close friend Katherine Wightman. She believed strongly, Wightman says, that all beings are equals, and that informed her activism.

Russell often posted her thoughts on Facebook, most recently about Bill 156. “Bill 156 has passed,” she wrote on the day before she died. “Now, any time an animal is suffering on a farm in Ontario, no one, not even an employee, has the right to expose it.”

Animal rights activists have been rallying against the Security From Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019  since January. 

The bill was introduced in the Ontario legislature late last year. Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman said it’s in response to complaints from farmers about animal rights groups trespassing on their private property. 

Friends and community, including Russell’s parents and husband, gathered for a vigil last weekend. (Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals)

The bill, he said, is a “bio-security” measure. It increases the fines for anyone caught trespassing on farms or food processing plants, and makes it illegal to gain access to a farm under “false pretenses,” which effectively makes undercover filming an offence.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture rallied support for the bill, saying it “protects our farms, families, livestock and food supply” from increasingly aggressive tactics from animal rights groups.

“Ontario farms have come under increasing threat from trespassers and activists who illegally enter property, barns and buildings, breaching biosecurity protocols,” president Keith Currie said in a June 12 media release

“Once peaceful protests have now escalated to trespassing, invasions, barn break-ins, theft and harassment.”

There’s precedent, however, to what Powell is considering. In Idaho, Iowa and Utah, courts have struck down similar “Ag-Gag” laws as being unconstitutional. That’s led Ontario animal rights activists to consider whether Ontario’s law could be struck down in court.

“She was dynamic,” friend Julie Maue says of Russell. “She was confident. She always made you feel like you were as beautiful as her.” (Toronto Pig Save)

Powell has retained Anandi Naipaul at Ross & McBride LLP. Russell’s family has also launched a fundraising campaign “to continue Regan’s work and assist the family.”

Powell says it’s the best way he knows to honour his wife’s life. Russell’s activism began when she was 24, he says, and living in Winnipeg. She made her own sign that said “Stop the seal hunt” and stood outside a downtown government building on a frigid winter day. After several hours, she thought she’d instigated some change.

“She went home, freezing cold,” Powell said. “She took a hot bath and thought, ‘There, that’s done. What’s next?'”

Russell was born and raised in Hamilton, Powell said, and moved to Moose Jaw and then Winnipeg. In Winnipeg, she became a model, an occupation that continued until 2002. She also enjoyed spending time with the family’s seven rescue cats, which Russell warned Powell about when they started dating. 

“She said, ‘You have to understand there will be cats, plural,'” he recalled. “I accepted that, and it’s grown to a family of seven cats.”

Animal activists embrace at the scene on June 19. (Andrew Collins/CBC)

In 1985, Powell says, she read Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals by Peter Singer, which changed her life, and she became vegan. She gave her dad Bill, now 89, the book, and he became an animal rights activist too. The pair protested together at Marineland, Powell says, and also at a 2017 Bill Cosby show in Hamilton.

Wightman met Russell as a teenage model in Winnipeg, and “she was instantly like a big sister.” The pair talked on the phone as often as five times a day. Wightman called Russell’s cell phone on June 19, not knowing Russell had died until Powell answered it and told her. 

Now, “it feels like I’ve lost my right arm,” Wightman said. Their last conversation, she said, was about Bill 156. “She said, ‘I am so tired. Do you realize now the work that lies ahead of me?'”

If there is a bright spot, she said, it’s that “the word has become global about who she is and what she stood for.”

Russell’s friend Julie Maue says the last time she saw her friend, they went to the office of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas MPP Sandy Shaw to talk about Bill 156. Russell, Maue says, was compassionate, intelligent and logical.


Activist killed after being struck by vehicle during Burlington pig plant protest

  • 8 days ago
  • 0:54

A animal activist protest in Burlington has turned deadly after Halton police say a vehicle struck and killed one of the activists. 0:54

“She was dynamic,” Maue said. “She was confident. She always made you feel like you were as beautiful as her.”

Anita Krajnc, founder of the Save movement, says Russell’s death has inspired vigils in multiple countries. She wants to keep the momentum going.

Krajnc made headlines at the Burlington plant in 2016 when she was charged with mischief for giving water to pigs. She was ultimately found not guilty after a lengthy trial that included slaughterhouse footage and testimony from a variety of experts. Russell attended the trial.

“I wake up multiple times a night, and I’m instantaneously thinking about her,” Krajnc said. Then “I go online and I watch the vigils.”

“I believe that site where Regan was killed, there will one day be a plant-based facility. I truly believe that.”

Why these meatpacking workers fear for their health and safety amid COVID-19

Jun 24, 2020 6:40 PM EDTBy —

Fred de Sam Lazaro53commentsShareShare on FacebookShare on TwitterTranscriptAudio


Many U.S. meatpacking plants shut down this spring due to coronavirus outbreaks. Nationwide, more than 27,000 workers have become infected, and nearly 100 have died. But in late April, President Trump ordered the facilities to stay open, deeming them critical to preserving the nation’s meat supply. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the experiences of some of these workers.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:It has been nearly six weeks since production resumed in most meatpacking plants across the country. Many were shut down amid coronavirus outbreaks. More than 27,000 workers have become infected, and 99 have died.In late April, President Trump ordered plants to reopen or remain open, calling them critical infrastructure to preserve the nation’s meat supply.Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro returns to one community in Minnesota where a pork processing plant is back online.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Here in the Fabled Valley, the Jolly Green Giant stands tall and now even masked, but it’s actually pork, not peas, that reigns.The huge meat processing plants are now nearly back at full capacity. But things are not exactly jolly.
  • Woman (through translator):We’re still going to have to keep working in fear, but we know that we need to continue working. We have no option.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:In Worthington, Minnesota, population 13,000, the JBS factory was shuttered by a COVID outbreak that sickened hundreds of its 2,100 employees.The effect was felt across this region, mostly at first among hog farmers in late April. Hundreds of thousands of their animals had to be euthanized.
  • David Bullerman:It’s devastating. I’d like President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act of 1950. We need to get these plants open today.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Echoing farmer Dave Bullerman’s plea, industry executives warned, the nation’s meat supply was threatened, a claim some analysts now say was exaggerated, noting that, in April, there were record pork exports to China.
  • President Donald Trump:I should be signing that over the next hour or so.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:But, on April 28, President Trump did order meatpacking plants to reopen and remain open, declaring them critical infrastructure.
  • President Donald Trump:Taking the liability, which frees up the entire system.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:The president said his move shielded companies from liability if their workers got sick.Back in Worthington, community organizer Jessica Velasco says the plight of workers never seemed a priority.
  • Jessica Velasco:Folks started talking about the hog farms that were losing money. The bigger issue than was them euthanizing all those poor hogs.The conversation should have been, how can we support both the JBS employees and the hog producers?
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:She says the employees, predominantly refugees and immigrants, remain largely invisible and fearful. She says many lost trust in the company because of the way it acted as more and more workers fell ill, leading the plant to shut down.Rafael, like all workers we spoke with, asked to remain ANONYMOUS.
  • Rafael (through translator):They told the workers not to worry, everything was OK. To be honest, they were not prepared at all. Nothing was OK. That’s where many became scared, and it was kind of you either work or you don’t eat situation.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Rafael says he decided to quit because of a health condition that leaves them vulnerable to COVID. These three workers returned.
  • Man (through translator):Everyone feels scared. Everyone feels like we do here.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:JBS declined our request for an on-camera interview. It did send a video — parts of it time-lapsed — of improvements made at another plant in Greeley, Colorado, where several workers died.JBS has put some older COVID-vulnerable workers on paid furlough, and, among other steps, now requires employees to wear masks and face shields. And it installed barriers between workstations. Workers told us it feels safer, but not safe.
  • Steven:Personally, I think that they should make it mandatory for employees to get tested, so that we know who has it and who does not.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:The company says it tests employees who show symptoms and takes employees’ temperature when they arrive.That’s no comfort to Anna, who survived a painful COVID infection just before the plant closed.
  • Anna (through translator):They took mine, but it never showed a temperature. But I was already very sick. I didn’t show the symptoms.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Most people like her have no choice but to return to work, she says.
  • Anna (through translator):We have family that we need to raise. We don’t have savings so we could just stay home.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Meatpacking has long attracted new immigrants who have few options. It is an intensely tough environment, as even this JBS job posting seems to warn, standing 10 hours a day, doing repetitive tasks in very high temperatures or very low temperatures, with unpleasant odors.It’s something labor historian Peter Rachleff says most Americans avoid.
  • Peter Rachleff:The work force in meatpacking has almost always been people who are within one generation of having lived in agriculture, people who are able to work in that kind of blood and guts kind of environment.
  • Rev. James Callahan:If it was not for the immigrant community, this community would just fold up and die.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Father James Callahan says immigrants sustain much of Worthington’s economy today, but he says this small town is not immune to the rancorous immigration debate, recalling comments he’s heard since the pandemic began.
  • Rev. James Callahan:Blaming the immigrant community for the spread of the virus, blaming people from the Asian communities for carrying it, I mean, a woman who said to me she was never going to eat in a Chinese restaurant again. I mean, how absurd is that?
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Are you finding a lot of that?
  • Rev. James Callahan:Not a lot, but enough where it becomes disturbing.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:He worries that meatpacking plants in Minnesota and elsewhere continue to see coronavirus spikes. So far, Father Callahan has presided over funerals in three-COVID related deaths of JBS workers, two of them since the plant reopened.For the “PBS NewsHour,” this is Fred de Sam Lazaro in Worthington, Minnesota.

Watch the Full EpisodePBS NewsHour from Jun 24, 2020By —

Fred de Sam Lazaro

Fred de Sam Lazaro is director of the Under-Told Stories Project at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, a program that combines international journalism and teaching. He has served with the PBS NewsHour since 1985 and is a regular contributor and substitute anchor for PBS’ Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.

Understanding Euthanasia: When Life and Words Become Worthless

Animals subjected to “euthanasia” often die by carbon dioxide poisoning, ventilation shutdown, and other mass-killing techniques that prolong suffering for minutes, even hours.Reading Time: 4 minutes

hen cage animal
Jo-Anne McArthur/Animal Equality

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals rightly defines euthanasia as a “good death.” But the Guidelines make all kinds of exceptions for situations in which the inhumane killing of animals—a very bad death—may be considered “euthanasia.”

People take their beloved companion animals reluctantly to the veterinarian to be euthanized, not to get rid of an inconvenience or for some other selfish purpose, but because their pet’s suffering is profound, cannot be alleviated, and will only worsen. Euthanizing a hopelessly suffering nonhuman animal or human being is an act of mercy. In such cases, the decision-makers implicitly understand the true meaning of euthanasia. The sufferer is not going to die slowly and painfully with an infusion of, say, carbon dioxide gas (CO2), or be baked to death “humanely,” as described in “How to Kill Half a Million Chickens at Once” and in “Pigs Roasted Alive in Coronavirus Mass-Extermination, Probe Uncovers” where the investigators errantly refer to the killings as “euthanizing.”

This verbal corruption confounds our discourse when, instead of a companion animal or human sufferer, the subject is a chicken, a pig, a turkey, or a mouse on a farm or in a laboratory. In these settings, the individual is one of the hundreds, thousands, or millions of captive individuals who exist solely for human use. They are born to be harmed—injured, infected, killed—for human “benefit.” When the researcher or the farmer decides in the interest of expedience to kill them, by whatever means, the term that is used to characterize the procedure is “euthanasia.”

An example appears in the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine publication, Water-Based Foam for Poultry Depopulation, which cites the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in support of the mass-suffocation of poultry under rolling carpets of chemically irritating fire-fighting foam:

Euthanasia of large numbers of birds in a quick, efficient manner with welfare consideration. The process is used to control disease spread or end the suffering of dying birds during a disease outbreak or natural disaster situations.

Though decades of research have confirmed that exposure to CO2 gas causes pain, panic and slow suffocation in mammals and birds, who will desperately seek to escape a CO2-filled chamber, the AVMA Guidelines 2020 equivocate, as in this directive for killing small animals in experimental settings:

In addition to humane outcomes, an important consideration in the choice of method for euthanasia of laboratory animals is the research objectives for the animals being euthanized.

For small animals like mice and rats in laboratories: Carbon dioxide, with or without premedication with halogenated [inhaled] anesthetics, is acceptable with conditions for euthanasia of small rodents.

In other words, a “humane outcome”—a manner of death that is painless, swift, and compassionate—may be sacrificed to “research objectives” and still be called “euthanasia,” and even absurdly at times, “humane euthanasia.”

Appallingly, the AVMA has fostered a language of impunity for agribusiness and the animal research industry to the point of elevating, in public and industry discourse, the opposite of what euthanasia and humane treatment literally mean. This fraudulent usage is a perfect example of Orwellian “newspeak,” which Merriam-Webster defines as “propagandistic language marked by euphemism, circumlocution, and the inversion of customary meanings.”

It’s easy for the public and for animal advocates to get lulled into a sense of complacency when all around us the authorities use terms like “euthanasia” to not only characterize but endorse the mass killings of farmed animals and animals in laboratories by asphyxiating, baking, or engulfing them in deadly chemicals with fire-fighting foam. Animals subjected to the cruelties of carbon dioxide, fire-fighting foam, and ventilation shutdown can take up to ten minutes, even hours, to die while struggling together in agony; and many survive these automated, crude procedures only to be trashed, buried or bulldozed, alive.

Where does this leave us—the animal advocacy community—in confronting the massive, unrelenting, painful carnage of living, breathing beings? Do we ignore it because the problem is too big for us to change? Do we justify our position because, as even animal advocates have said on occasion, fraught with frustration that can degenerate into apathy, “They’re going to die anyway”?

Of course, we’re all going to die, but when it comes to our own species and our beloved companion animals, we do not invoke our mortal fate as an excuse for abuse. The conundrum in the case of laboratory animals and farmed animals isn’t simply that they are “going to die anyway.” It’s that they are going to die inhumanely in a slaughterhouse or as part of an experiment, or in the inhumane circumstances that surround slaughter and experimentation—transportation, neglect, rough handling, overwhelming stress, fear, and learned helplessness.

There is no quick or easy answer because if there were, animal advocates would champion it. But this much we know: Silence and euphemisms like “euthanasia” are not the answer. We may be uncomfortable with a problem that is so immense and seemingly intractable, but we need to speak up—and speak accurately—even if we feel we’re shouting in the wind.

As animal advocates, we cannot allow animal exploiters to define the conversation for us, lull us into false rhetoric, or determine how we regard animals. Succumbing to these pressures, we degrade the lives of the animals down to the level at which the exploiters abuse them. By submitting to linguistic subterfuges, we accommodate virtually any mistreatment of animals as acceptable. This is the moral downslide that allows agribusiness and animal researchers to inflict pain, torment, and death on animals unfazed. It’s the type of “convenience” that debased language facilitates. As advocates for animals, let us not call the brutal mass-extermination of innocent, defenseless creatures for the sake of human convenience, “euthanasia.”

For the animals’ sake, we cannot let ourselves, or the public, be “put to sleep.”

Karen Davis, PhD is the President and Founder of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl including a sanctuary for chickens in Virginia. She is the author of numerous books, essays, articles, and campaigns advocating for these birds. Her latest book is For the Birds: From Exploitation to Liberation: Essays on Chickens, Turkeys, and Other Domesticated Fowl (Lantern Books, 2019).

Barbara Stagno is the President and Founder of Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research & Experimentation (CAARE). Since 1995, Barbara has worked to oppose the exploitation of animals, especially the use of animals in experiments. She founded CAARE in 2014 to disseminate information about the power of emerging science to end the use of animals in research, while also raising awareness of their immense suffering. Before starting CAARE, Barbara was a campaign director for a national animal protection organization.

Protester dead in Burlington after being struck by transport truck at pig slaughterhouse

Halton Regional Police are investigating a pedestrian fatality in Burlington Friday after a protester was reportedly struck and killed by a transport truck outside the slaughterhouse.

The incident occurred outside the Fearmans Pork meat processing facility at Appleby Line and Harvester Road.

There are reports the protester — a woman — was trying to feed the pigs inside the transport truck while it was still moving when she was struck and killed.

Animal rights protesters have a long history of protesting at Fearmans.

The events’ declared purpose is to bear witness to the animals arriving for slaughter and reduce the disconnect people have with the food they have on their plate.

“This is so tragic, so heartbreaking,” said Geena Morrison, who has participated in pasts protests outside the plant. “I’m in tears.”